Out Teach
Life Science
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Lower Primary
  • Animals
  • If/Then
  • Ifthen
  • Life Science
  • Needs of Organisms
  • Out Teach
  • Science
  • ifthen
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    Education Standards

    Animal Survival -- Out Teach

    Animal Survival  -- Out Teach


    Students will explore the outdoor classroom in pairs looking for evidence of animal life and imagining what types of animals might live in, and survive in, the outdoor classroom area.

    Background for Teachers:

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    The key is for students to begin connecting observations to plausible explanations for their thoughts; to be able to differentiate between the likelihood of rabbit living in the garden from a lion. It may be helpful to expand the search to a more wooded area, but this will need extra precautions (boundaries, poison ivy search, no touch rule).

    Students often have misconceptions between needs and wants. Needs are things like air, water, food and shelter. 

    Wants are those things we would like to have, like a new toy, but aren't essential for keeping us alive.  

    Make sure to do a walk-through of the space prior to teaching the lesson. This will help you ask questions specific to your school ground.It may be helpful to expand the search to a more wooded area but this will need extra precautions (boundaries, poison ivy search, no touch rule).

    Key Vocabulary:

    • Habitat

    • Diet

    • Shelter

    • Needs

    • Wants

    Guiding Question:

    How do animals survive in and around the outdoor classroom?


    Ask: "Did you know an adult elephant can eat up to 600 pounds of food each day?"

    Ask: How much do you think you eat during the day? Do all animals need the same amount of food to survive?

    Add additional context for students to get excited. Ensure they understand how much food that really is. (You can bring together about 10 students to show the weight of food the elephant eats.)

    Inform students that they will explore the area in this lesson thinking about what kinds of animals live nearby.

    Tell students them to look for clues to where animals would live and the kinds of things they would eat to survive.


    Let students work in pairs exploring the area.

    Have them list the animals they think might live nearby.

    Have students add notes explaining why they think those animals live there.

    Sample questions:

    • Do you notice any area that might be a shelter for an animal?

    • What do you think that animal might eat?

    • What evidence do you have of an animal eating in this location?

    • Have you ever seen that animal in a garden or near your school?


    Gather students and ask them to share what they found.

    Write student findings on the board. To ensure that all voices are heard, consider doing a turn-and-talk or partner chat.

    Begin to sort through their findings asking questions about specific observations or reasons they believe a certain type of animal may be nearby. Make sure to have students state the evidence they have for their claim that an animal would live in a specific area.

    Note: Clear up any unreasonable theories and stress that it is part of the scientific process to rule out certain possibilities. (Example: A student says that a bear lives on the school grounds. Walk that student through what their evidence is for this claim. Ask where the bear would sleep? What it would eat? Would it be safe? Show students that before we make a claim, we must have evidence to support it.)


    Have students work independently to choose one animal that was discussed, sketch it in the garden with its food, shelter and anything else important for its survival.


    Pick three animals that are native to your school yard (ex: earthworm, monarch butterfly etc.).

    Ask students to explain in writing why or why not that animal could survive on their schoolground.

    Ask students to look for an evidence of the animal living on the school grounds. What do it need?

    Ask students to share their work and reinforce the use of plausible explanations for each example.

    Extension Ideas:

    Students can choose a native animal to research and present to their classmates, and create shoe box dioramas of their animals.

    Students could create shelters for native species and place in the outdoor classroom. Examples include native beehives, decomposing logs, mulch. Visit these periodically throughout the year for evidence that animals have made them a home.

    Career Connections

    The IF/THEN collection is the world’s largest free digital library of authentic and relatable images and videos of women STEM innovators.  


    Dr. Lekelia "Kiki" Jenkins is a marine conservation scientist, dancer, coreographer, and associate professor at Arizona State University. While completing her PhD she choreograhed a dance about her research on sea turtles that earned her second place in the Dance your PhD competition. 


    Have your students watch this video for inspiration about pursuing STEM careers, and read this profile to learn more about Dr. Jenkin's story.


    Thank you for creating a culture shift in how the world perceives women in STEM.